For the North Platte Lady Bulldogs, Thursday’s game against Scottsbluff was eerily similar to when they first played against the Lady Bearcats.
On Thursday, NPHS got out to a sizable lead and weathered a strong surge in the third quarter before dominating the fourth to win, 69-58.
It played out just like the Bulldogs’ 64-54 victory over Scottsbluff in the GNAC tournament finals on Jan. 4.
“It definitely did,” North Platte coach Tyson Hammond said. “We were able to come out and make a run early. Then in the third quarter, Scottsbluff made their run. We know that’s coming from them. They have a lot of shooters and they play at a frenetic pace that allows them to go long stretches where they don’t score but they can score 12 points in a hurry. They hit one of those hot streaks in the third quarter. I thought we did a good job of staying strong and weathering that storm.”
The game began with a three-pointer for the Lady Dawgs (16-4) by Rylee Kurth. Then Gracie Haneborg scored by putting in her own miss before Abby Orr then scored on another putback to make it 7-0.
The Bearcats (12-10) quickly shook it off and they took the lead at 9-8 after Brady Laucomer put in a missed three by Yarra Garcia.
Both teams battled for the rest of the first quarter with Scottsbluff leading 20-18 at the end of the first eight minutes.
Callie Haneborg scored the first bucket of the second quarter to tie the game. Gracie Haneborg scored again to give North Platte the lead and then a basket by Carly Purdy made it a four-point lead.
Garcia made a free throw to score the first point of the quarter for the Bearcats. But the Bulldogs continued to rally. Shelby Berglund made a jump shot from 18 feet after recovering the loose ball and Kurth hit another three to make it 29-21 nearly halfway through the quarter.
NPHS kept the momentum the rest of the half to lead 36-27 at the break.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half of making them pay for clogging the paint,” Hammond said. “They made a really big effort to take away our inside touches from Carly, Abby and even Gracie when she posts up. I thought we did a good job of kicking it out. Rylee Kurth hit some threes. Shelby Berglund hit a three and Kylie Harvey hit one. Those shots for us are huge when teams try to compact the paint against us.”
The Bulldogs led by as much as 13 in the third quarter before Scottsbluff battled back. The Bearcats came within 47-44 after baskets by Izzy Wright and Mariyah Avila. Then Sabrina Harsh made a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Then at the buzzer, Harsh put in a Garcia miss to put Scottsbluff on top, 48-47, going into the fourth.
Orr scored the first two baskets of the fourth to give North Platte a three-point lead before Garcia buried a three to tie the game again.
The Bulldogs went back on top with a basket by Purdy. Then it became a two-possession game when Orr put in Purdy’s miss.
Garcia hit a free throw. But Orr knocked down a jumper from 18 feet and then Purdy scored on a putback of Gracie Haneborg to make it 59-52 with just under three minutes left.
The Bearcats pulled to within three again at 61-58 after threes by Garcia and Aubrey Krentz. But North Platte scored the last eight points from the free throw line to close out the win.
Just like in GNAC, the size advantage of Orr, at 6’2″, and Purdy, 6’0″, won out against Scottsbluff, who didn’t have anyone over 5’9″.
“We work a lot on trying to get that coordinated with those two with how we want to cut and how we want to move,” Hammond said. “We would’ve liked to have gone to it a little earlier, but foul trouble and different things kept us from it. But when it really mattered in the fourth quarter, we did a great job of not being in a hurry, not settling for okay shots but making sure we got the really good shots we wanted.”
Next, NPHS will host Gering (7-16) on Friday in the last game of the regular season.
Score by quarters:
Scottsbluff: 20-7-2-10 – 58
North Platte: 18-18-11-22 – 69
Scottsbluff (58)-Mariyah Avila 5, Izzy Wright 2, Yarra Garcia 29, Sabrina Harsh 6, Aubrey Krentz 3, Emma Foote 2, Brady Laucomer 11
North Platte (69)-Gracie Haneborg 16, Callie Haneborg 10, Rylee Kurth 10, Carly Purdy 12, Kylie Harvey 3, Shelby Berglund 6, Abby Orr 12
Free throws: S 9-14, NP 8-15; Three-point goals: S 5 (Garcia 3, Avila, Krentz), NP 5 (Kurth 3, Harvey, Berglund)